Be blunt when asking for a date
Don't just ask if she wants to "hang out"
From my loose understanding of the times, in the 1950's it was the norm for a man to ask a woman out on a formal date. Back then, again from what I understand of it, if a man was interested romantically in a woman, he didn't simply ask her if she wanted "to hang out sometime," and then upon her agreement, he assumed she understood their social outing was a genuine date. He would say something close to "Linda, would you be interested in going on a date with me Saturday night?" But it seems, based on my own experiences, that the social norm of today is to be as ambiguous as possible when communicating to someone that you are romantically interested in him or her, and to hope the object of your affection can read your mind when your intention is not clearly stated.
When I was younger, perhaps 23 or 24, a male acquaintance asked me, quite casually, if I would like to hang out sometime. Because he was a nice guy and didn't have any red flags about him, even as a platonic friend, I agreed. We had made plans to get together about five days after he had asked if I wanted to get together. We agreed we would go see a movie (and not a particularly romantic one. I can't recall what it was, but it had no romantic overtones). A few days later he called to ask me if I wanted to perhaps grab some food before the movie. I agreed a meal would be a good idea. I know what you're thinking..."This sounds like a date; a meal out and then a movie. Why was she confused?" But here are a few defining details: He said he had coupons to the movie (though fiscally responsible, not very sexy to admit); he hadn't acted in any way toward me to give me the impression he was romantically interested in me (didn't flirt or any other such thing); he suggested we go see a movie earlier in the day, so we weren't going to "dinner and a movie;" and like I said, these activities weren't ask about all at once--first he asked if I wanted to hang out, then we agreed a movie would be fun, then he asked if I wanted to eat first. So the day of the "hanging out" happens, and he informs me the movie is showing a few different times so would I like to go out to Sauvie's Island (a more rural community area close to town with open park areas) before we go to the movie. I said that was fine. On the way out to Sauvie's Island, he asked if I had any tattoos. I said I did, to which he replied, "I'd like to see them. You haven't shown me any skin, but then it's only our first date." "Date?!" I thought to myself, "He never said anything about a date!" So here I was, in a car with a guy I had absolutely no romantic interest in, who I was not physically attracted to, who thought we were on a date because I agreed to "hang out" with him.
Suffice it to say, the above situation made the rest of the day a bit awkward for me, as I tried to be as platonic and cool toward him as possible. I wasn't mad at him for not being clear with me about his intentions, but I didn't have the heart to tell him to his face that to me this was not a date. I think I already felt awkward enough for the both of us. I didn't want to say anything and make him feel awkward too. Perhaps it was a bit cowardly of me to not tell him right there that this "date" business was a misunderstanding. But I feel it was much more cowardly of him to not have stated his true intentions in the beginning. For if he had had the decency to ask me out on a formal date, I would have respectfully declined but thanked him for the offer. Later when he dropped me off at home, he said he was thirsty and asked if he could come in to get a drink of water. At this point I realized that was an excuse to just come inside, but what do you say in that situation? "No you can't have any water. I don't care if you are dehydrated,"? My only option was to say he could come inside, even though I only wanted him to go home so the awkwardness could end. He tried to make small talk but I told him I was tired and that I had some work I needed to do, so he knew he needed to go. He did, and I vaguely recall him leaving being awkward as well, since I just wanted him to go but I didn't want to be rude and not at least thank him for the movie and such. So I did just that, and he left. The worst part though, was I was left with the burden of having to tell him I wasn't interested in him. That I had, in his mind, accepted a date with him, made having to do so that much worse. So a few days later I called him, with the sole intention of letting him down--not the greatest feeling in the world. I can't recall exactly what I told him, but he sounded pretty defeated about it, about me not understanding it was a date. I do recall that I told a close guy friend what I had told "hang out" guy and my friend almost groaned, telling me essentially "You said that? I can't believe you said that," clearly conveying to me that I'm too blunt and what I said probably hurt the guy's feelings.
So now I was the bad guy, feeling guilty for having to do something I shouldn't have ever had to do in the first place because "hang out" guy apparently didn't know any better to ask me "Would you like to go on a date with me sometime." This took place a long time ago, so I don't feel bad about it anymore. But guys (or gals if the lady is the one doing the asking), please, please, spare yourself the heartache and the gal the guilt of having to let you down by simply using these words: "(Insert her name here), would you like to go on a date with me this Saturday night (or whenever you mean to take her out)." It's not a hard sentence to say, really. You can now clearly see what an awkward situation the words "hang out with me" can bring. The lady of your affection will be much more impressed with your directness and clarity of your intentions if you formally ask her on a date. Plus, if you have respect for this woman (as you should since you like her enough to want to spend time with her) it's not respectful at all, nor polite, to potentially put her in the situation of having to call you and tell you she didn't know it was a date, and that she isn't interested in you in a romantic manner, making her feel like a bad person. You don't want her to feel like a bad person, do you?
Asking someone you have romantic intentions toward if she or he wants to "hang out" sometime, is incredibly vague. If she doesn't like you, she may agree, as I did, because you are a cool guy so why not? But you, being interested in her, now assume she agreed to a romantic date and that she is at least a little interested in you. Or say you don't have romantic feelings for her, but perhaps she has them for you. Asking her if she wants to "hang out" with just you, one on one, she very well may wonder if you just asked her out on a date. She hopefully wouldn't assume you were interested romantically in her, but she may at least hope you like her, otherwise you wouldn't have asked to spend time alone with her. So to anyone asking anyone out for the first time, for the love of god just use the word "date" when asking this person. An incredible amount of awkwardness and hurt could very well be the outcome of "hanging out" with someone. It's simply horrible communication to ask someone to "hang out" if you want to eventually be in a true relationship with this person. If you ask for a date, and she says no, then oh well. No harm, no foul. If you ask her on an official date and she says yes, then you know without a doubt that she is romantically interested. (As an aside, someone could be agreeing to a date to be nice. If you are someone who would agree to a date "to be nice" don't. It's not nice. It's misleading). If you ask her simply if she wants to "hang out" she has no idea if you are interested in her, and you have no way of knowing if she is interested in you if she agrees. Wouldn't you like to know from the get-go that she is interested in you, rather than wonder if you read her body language correctly or what not a week later? Just grow up, be a man, and ask her on a date, a real one...then take her.